31 January 2021 | UK NEWS
The UK is applying to join a large free trade area containing nations from the Asia and Pacific region.
The UK will apply for membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday, which already contains eleven “fast-growing nations”. The Government says the trade partnership will help boost UK exports.
The trade bloc, established in 2018, is made of nations Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The market covers around 500 million people.
The partnership will also eliminate most tariffs for UK exports traded with the countries concerned. The Government hopes this will reduce tariffs on “whisky and cars, as well as service industries” in particular.
If the UK were to join the CPTPP, it would be the first non-founding member to join the partnership. Membership would not prevent it from striking free trade deals elsewhere.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the partnership, although there is speculation that it could rejoin under the new Biden administration.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning: “In future, it’s going to be Asia-Pacific countries in particular where the big markets are, where growing middle-class markets are, for British products.”
She continued: “Of course, British businesses will have to reach out and take these opportunities, but what I’m doing is I’m creating the opportunities, the low tariffs, removing those barriers so they can go out and do that.”
The UK is currently negotiating free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, independently of the CPTPP.
In 2019, the nations in the CPTPP accounted for 8.4% of UK exports, but the Government’s hope is that the CPTPP will increase this number significantly.